Mina Troise

Honeymooners. Image courtesy of the author.

When we were young and living the moments that would become the good stories, we went out into the desert. The land, so open and unforgiving, was neutral. I liked these qualities. In tight-laced hiking boots, the sound of sand whipping against my ankles felt like a dose of absolution. He trailed behind me.

We found a yucca tree and sat in its sparse shade. I’d designed this moment. Any old tree would do. He backed off and took one of me, hands on my hips, midday sun making me faceless. The light turned my shirt blindingly, frighteningly white.

On that day, it was his pocket knife that split an apple between us. It was pithy and riddled with worms. He handed me the sweetest slice. The only bead of juice it had to offer rolled down the seam of my palm, stuck there, itched. I don’t remember how the apple tasted.

I remember we knew there were train tracks nearby. We’d talked about them then; some marker of progress, I suppose, a recognizable blip in a venture defined by nothingness. We were so far out that there were only other yucca trees as road signs, and beyond that, the hazy smudges of the hills, our distant cradle. The talk of the train died out.

Sweating and slackened by the sun, the trunk of the tree pulsed behind us, and I felt it sucking out our moisture as we leaked into the sand. Empty-armed and pleasantly hungry, we sat and savored the feeling of wasting away. Quickly it was dusk.

Lit by a warbling moon, an all-seeing vulture did not dive, only circled. For the life of me I can’t remember what we talked about. Far off there was the grind of the train, indistinguishably halted or chugging away. His face was caked in sand, and against its rasp, his eyes were dark and glistening. We had nothing left to eat. Ribs stretched, cracked, and as one future died, he reached for that new one only we could make, together.

Mina Troise is daydreaming about
galloping white horses.